Hartlepool United must keep it tight at the back says new boss Paul Murray

NEW MANAGER: Hartlepool United Manager Paul Murray during the game against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID
NEW MANAGER: Hartlepool United Manager Paul Murray during the game against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID

THERE is no point scoring goals up front if we can’t keep it tight at the back.

That was the view of Paul Murray as the new Hartlepool United manager geared up for a difficult Victoria Park baptism against Newport County tomorrow.

The Welsh side are moving along strongly in seventh and while the teams above them have better away records, County boast a watertight defence on their travels.

Murray stopped short of saying ‘we are not scoring enough and we are conceding too many at the other end’ when he staged his first press conference yesterday.

Both facets need to change if Pools are to claw their way from the foot of League Two.

But Murray told the media that their revival must be built from the back.

“We have to be disciplined first of all,” said the new gaffer.

“We have to keep clean sheets, we must keep the back door shut and go and get some goals.

“We have to be defensively solid but on the flip side we have to attack and score goals, it’s as simple as that.

“Our top scorer is Charlie Wyke on four.

“All areas need to be addressed, but if we don’t keep the back door shut there’s no point scoring those goals.”

Newport arrive in good form and will doubtless be licking their lips at the prospect of playing the bottom side.

“They have got themselves in a play-off position,” said Murray.

“We know their system and strategy, they play three at the back.

“I don’t think Newport will change much from how they have played.

“We will work on it before the game and be ready for them, for sure.

“It’s a good game for us, especially on the back of that positive second-half performance at Cambridge.

“Newport have been doing well, we know that.

“We have to keep the back door closed, but also create up front and what I saw second half on Saturday was that we can create chances.

“Hopefully with the work we’ve been doing with the lads this week, we’ll create even more.

“Brad Walker got on the ball more at Cambridge and Marlon Harewood, after being out of the picture, has come back in and did well.”

Murray proved last weekend that he is not afraid to alter the side.

He made four changes to the side of his former Pools team-mate and now coach Sam Collins, even though he’d only seen the squad train on the Friday.

Murray may look to put out a side close to the one which finished at the Abbey Stadium last Saturday.

Harewood looks a good bet to start while Michael Woods could also be a contender for a spot in midfield.

The 24-year-old was a second-half sub and also produced a positive display in front of the watching Murray for the reserves at West Auckland in the Durham Cup in midweek.

Pools (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Austin, Walker, Miller, Crooks, Wyke, Harewood, Franks. Subs: Richards, Holden, Jones, Hawkins, Brobbel, Woods, Smith.

Newport (probable):Day, Feely, Jones, Hughes, Obeng, Minshull, Byrne, Porter, Sandell, O’Connor, Zebroski. Subs: Pidgeley, Yakubu, Tancock, Flynn, Klukowski, Loveridge, Pigott